Shipping a Boat Across the Country at Affordable Rates

Adaeze Nwakaeze Adaeze Nwakaeze · Updated February 23, 2024

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All hands on deck! Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned skipper, there’s nothing like the thrill of commanding your vessel on the open water. But what happens when you’re faced with shipping your boat across the country?

The thought of bidding farewell to your beloved boat can feel heart-wrenching, but don’t worry. We’re here to help you navigate the treacherous waters of boat shipping and find affordable rates to fit your budget.

We have scoured the industry to uncover the best methods, tips and tricks for shipping your boat with confidence and peace of mind. So grab your captain’s hat, raise the anchor and join us on this exciting journey to shipping your boat across the country at affordable rates!

How Can You Get Affordable Boat Shipping Rates

When it comes to getting affordable boat shipping rates, there are several strategies that you can use. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and find a great deal:

#1. Negotiate With Drivers

Many boat transport companies work with independent drivers who may be willing to negotiate a lower rate. When shopping around for a shipping quote, ask if the driver can offer a discount or if any promotions are available. In some cases, you can get a better deal by contacting several companies and comparing rates before deciding.

#2. Consider the Time of Year

Shipping rates for boats can vary depending on the time of year. During peak boating season, shipping rates are higher due to increased demand. Try to schedule your boat transport during the off-season to save on costs.

#3. Compromise on Pick-up and Drop-off Locations

If your location is remote or difficult to access, meeting the transport driver at a more convenient location, such as a nearby marina or port, can save time and money for you and the driver. Be willing to compromise on the pick-up and drop-off locations to get the best possible rate.

#4. Consider the Size and Weight of Your Boat 

Keep in mind that larger boats tend to come with higher transportation costs. If you want to save cash, consider downsizing or renting a smaller boat. 

And, when you’re requesting a quote from a boat shipping company, provide accurate dimensions and weight information. This way, you avoid any surprises when it comes to the final cost of shipping.

How to Choose the Best Boat Shipping Company

Choosing the best boat shipping company is essential to ensuring that your vessel arrives at its destination safely and on time. Here are some tips to help you:

#1. Reputation

A company’s reputation is crucial when choosing a boat shipping company. You should look for a company with a strong industry reputation and a proven track record. You can also ask for recommendations from fellow boat owners or boating communities.

#2. Experience

Experience is another important factor to consider when choosing a boat shipping company. Look for a company with experience transporting boats like yours.

Different boats require different handling methods, so it’s important to find a company with the knowledge and expertise to handle your boat properly. Experienced boat shipping companies will also know how to anticipate potential issues during transport, minimizing the risk of damage or delays.

#3. Insurance

When choosing a boat shipping company, it’s essential to make sure that they have adequate insurance coverage. This will protect your boat in case of unforeseen circumstances during transport, such as accidents, theft or damage. A reputable boat shipping company should be willing to provide you with proof of insurance upon request.

#4. Price

Price is, of course, an important factor to consider when choosing a boat shipping company. Although, it’s important not to base your decision solely on price. Beware of companies offering meager rates, which may indicate poor quality service or hidden fees. A reputable boat shipping company will offer competitive rates based on the size, weight and distance of your boat’s transport.

#5. Customer Service

Finally, choosing a boat shipping company that provides excellent customer service is important. You should look for a responsive company that is easy to communicate with and keeps you updated throughout the shipping process. A good boat shipping company should be available to answer any questions or concerns and be willing to work with you to ensure a smooth and stress-free transport experience.

How to Prepare a Boat for Shipping Across the Country

When preparing your boat for shipping across the country, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure it is safe and secure during transport.

#1. Remove Loose Items

Before shipping, remove all loose items from your boat, including personal belongings, electronics, fishing gear and other loose items not securely attached to the boat. You don’t want anything flying inside your boat during transport, causing damage to your belongings or your boat.

#2. Drain Fluids

To prevent leaks or spills during transport, drain all fluids from your boat, including fuel, water and other liquids in the boat’s tanks. It is also a crucial safety measure for your boat and the other vehicles on the road.

#3. Disconnect Batteries and Electrical Connections

Disconnect the boat’s batteries and any electrical connections to prevent electrical fires or damage during transport. Label each cable and wire so you can reconnect them properly when the boat arrives at its destination.

#4. Remove Canvas or Cover

If your boat has a canvas or cover, remove it before shipping. This will help prevent any damage to the cover and ensure the boat is securely fastened during transport.

#5. Clean the Boat

Cleaning your boat thoroughly, both inside and out, is essential to prevent any debris or contaminants from damaging the boat during transport. Pay special attention to the bottom of the boat, the propeller and the hull. A clean boat also makes it easier to inspect for any damages that may have occurred during the shipping process.

#6. Secure the Boat

Properly securing the boat is crucial to ensure it arrives at its destination safely and in the same condition as when it left. The boat shipping company will provide instructions on how to do this, but typically it involves using straps and blocks to secure the boat to the trailer or cradle. Make sure that the boat is tightly secured to prevent any movement during transport, but not too tight that it damages the boat.

How to Measure Your Boat

Measuring your boat accurately is crucial to ensuring it is shipped safely and securely. Here are some tips to help you measure your boat correctly:

#1. Overall Length

Start by measuring the overall length of your boat from the tip of the bow to the end of the stern. Include any attachments, such as swim platforms, bow pulpits or davits, in your measurement. This will ensure that you choose the right transport method and that your boat fits within the transport vehicle or container.

#2. Width

Next, measure the widest point of your boat. It is typically at the beam, the widest part of the boat’s hull. Again, make sure to include any attachments in your measurement.

#3. Height

Measure the overall height of your boat, including any antennas or other attachments that may add to its height. It is important as some transport methods, such as overland transport, have height restrictions that must be considered. If your boat is too tall, you may need to remove any attachments or find a different transport method.

#4. Weight

Determine the weight of your boat, including any equipment, fuel and personal belongings that will be transported with it. Overloading your boat can lead to safety issues and damage during transport.

#5. Check For Irregularities

Check your boat for any irregularities, such as a raised windshield or an extended swim platform that may affect its dimensions. Make sure to measure these and include them in your overall measurements. Irregularities can affect the fit of your boat during transport and can also affect the cost of shipping.

#6. Consult with a Professional

If you need help measuring your boat accurately or have any questions about the process, it’s always best to consult a professional. They can guide you and ensure your boat is measured correctly.

Regulatory Requirements for Shipping a Boat Across the Country

Complying with regulatory requirements is essential to ensure a smooth and safe journey when shipping a boat across the country. Here are some critical regulatory requirements to consider:

#1. DOT and FMCSA Authorizations

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the transportation of goods and vehicles, including boats. Ensure that the boat shipping company you choose has the necessary DOT and FMCSA authorizations to transport your boat legally. The DOT and FMCSA authorizations confirm that the company meets safety, insurance and licensing requirements.

#2. Insurance Coverage

Boat transportation could be risky and accidents can happen. Protect your investment by selecting a boat shipping company that offers insurance coverage. Verify the insurance coverage details with the company, including the coverage limits and the insurance provider. It’s advisable to ask for a copy of the company’s insurance certificate for your records.

#3. Permits and Licenses

Depending on the size and weight of your boat and the route it will take, you may need to obtain special permits and licenses. For instance, oversize and overweight boats may require permits for highway transportation. Your boat shipping company should be able to help you obtain the necessary permits and licenses, but it’s essential to confirm this beforehand.

#4. Taxes

Some states may require you to pay taxes on your boat when it arrives at its destination. The tax laws vary by state, so it’s important to check with the boat shipping company or local authorities to see if any taxes apply. Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork and documentation to prove you have paid any required taxes.

Ways of Shipping Your Boat Across the Country

There are different ways to ship your boat across the country and the method you choose depends on several factors, including the size and type of your boat, your budget and your time frame. Here are some of the most common ways of shipping your boat across the country:

#1. Boat and Yacht Transport Ship

One of the most popular ways of shipping your boat across the country is by using a boat and a yacht transport ship. These specialized ships are designed to transport boats and yachts of various sizes and types across long distances. They typically load the boats onto the ship using a crane and the boats are secured to the ship’s deck for the duration of the journey.

Boat transport ships offer a safe and efficient way to ship your boat across the country and they are particularly useful for larger boats and yachts that cannot be transported by road.

#2. Using a Boat Trailer

You can transport your boat using a boat trailer if your boat is small enough. This method involves loading the boat onto a trailer, which is then hitched to a vehicle and towed to its destination. Boat trailers come in different sizes and designs and you can choose the one that is best suited for your boat.

This method is relatively affordable and gives you more control over the shipping process, but it may not be suitable for larger boats or long-distance transportation.

#3. Flatbed Truck

Flatbed trucks are also used to transport boats across the country, particularly smaller boats that could be loaded onto the flatbed. The boat is secured to the flatbed using straps and other securing equipment and the truck driver then transports the boat to its destination.

This method is relatively affordable and used for short and long distances, but it is unsuitable for larger boats or boats that cannot easily load onto a flatbed.

#4. Container Shipping

Another option for shipping your boat across the country is using container shipping. This method involves loading your boat into a shipping container, which is then transported by truck or train to its destination. Container shipping is typically used for smaller vessels and yachts and is suitable for short and long distances. Although, it may not be suitable for larger boats or boats requiring special handling during transportation.

#5. Air Freight

Consider using air freight if you need to transport your boat quickly or over a long distance. This method involves loading your boat onto a cargo plane and transporting it to its destination. Air freight is typically used for larger boats and yachts and is suitable for long-distance transportation. But it’s usually the most expensive method of shipping your boat across the country.


Shipping your boat across the country doesn’t have to be daunting. You can ensure a smooth and stress-free process with the right preparation, knowledge of the different shipping methods and compliance with regulatory requirements. By choosing a reputable and reliable company like CitizenShipper, you can rest assured that your beloved vessel is in good hands.

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t let distance keep you from your next adventure on the water post your boat shipment job on CitizenShipper today and connect with a driver who can safely and affordably transport your vessel to its destination. Happy boating!